William P. Cunningham
University of Minnesota
Mary Ann Cunningham
Copyright © McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.
Understanding Our Environment
A Divided World
Humans have always inhabited both a natural world and a social world.
Environment Circumstances or conditions that surround an organism or group of organisms
Complex of social or cultural conditions that affect an individual or community
Environmental Science is the systematic study of our environment and our proper place in it
Interdisciplinary and Integrative:
- Natural Sciences
- Social Sciences
Focused on understand and resolving environmental problems humans have created.
Many kinds of knowledge contribute to our understanding in Environmental Science
Human Population is > 7 Billion
Climate Change: burning fossil fuels causes global climate change.
Hunger: food is inequitably distributed across the globe and 2/3 of agricultural lands show signs of degradation.
Clean Water: may be the most critical resource in the 21st century.
Energy: fossil fuel use causes pollution, there is a shift to using more renewable energy resources. Biodiversity Loss: species are being lost at a rapid rate.
Air Pollution: air quality has worsened
dramatically in many areas.
Signs of Hope
Progress has been made on many fronts.
Population & Pollution: Many cities are more livable today than a century ago due to human birth rate stabilization and clean technology use. Health: Incidence of life-threatening diseases has been reduced in most countries.
Information and Education: Expanding access to knowledge is essential to progress.
Sustainable Resource Use and Habitat Conservation: Tropical forest destruction has slowed & habitat protection has improved in some areas.
Renewable Energy: Progress is being made in the transition to renewable energy sources.
Carbon Markets and Standards: Cap-and-trade programs help limit greenhouse gas emissions.
International Cooperation: Some international environmental protection agreements have been highly successful, while others lack enforcement. 8
Over time there were four distinct stages
Pragmatic Resource Conservation
Moral and Aesthetic Nature Preservation
Concern about Health and Ecological Damage
Global Environmental Citizenship
These stages are not mutually exclusive and parts of each persist today in the environmental movement.
Stage 1. Pragmatic Resource Conservation
George Perkins Marsh - Man and Nature published in 1864
- Influenced Theodore Roosevelt and his conservation advisor, Gifford Pinchot.
- Pinchot’s policy was one of
Pragmatic Utilitarian Conservation
“For the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time”
Reflected today in the Multiple Use
Policies of USFS
Stage 2. Ethical and Aesthetic
John Muir - President Sierra Club
Nature deserves to exist for its own sake regardless of degree of usefulness to humans.
Biocentric Preservation – “Why ought man to value himself more than…the one great unit of creation.” He opposed Pinchot’s view.
Aldo Leopold –
A student of Pinchot’s
Authored “The Land Ethic” – “we abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.”
Stage 3. Modern Environmental Movement
The industrial expansion after WW II added new concerns to the environmental agenda.
Rachel Carson---awakened the public to the environmental threat posed by pesticides in her book
Silent Spring (1962)
David Brower—introduced the use of litigation,…